In addition to a CV, it’s often necessary to include a cover letter in a job application. Even when it’s not mandatory, a cover letter gives you the opportunity to highlight your knowledge and skills that make you the best candidate for the job you want.
Although you are well aware of that, writing a cover letter probably still reminds you of writing a high school assignment, and a blank Word page takes you back to those moments when you sweated in the back row of the classroom before turning in a half-empty page that you tried to expand with just two more sentences.
Luckily, preparation is half the battle on the way to a well-structured cover letter, one that doesn’t resemble Albert Camus’ stream of consciousness. For good preparation, we recommend these 5 simple steps.
Read and analyse the job advert carefully
Before you get down to writing, take another look at the job advert. The job ad is your best compass for writing a good cover letter because it contains a lot of important information:
- information about the company,
- the qualifications required of the applicant,
- the conditions and benefits offered by the employer,
- the method of applying.
You could say that the employer has already written half of the cover letter for you, if you know how to make the best use of this information. 😉
Read the advertisement again and underline the most important knowledge and skills that are required. If you’re preparing to submit an open application and don’t have an active job advertisement in front of you, look for old advertisements of the company where you want to apply for the desired job or find a similar advertisement of another company.
Make a connection between the requirements in the ad and your knowledge, skills, and interests
Once you know exactly what’s required of an applicant, it’s time to make a connection between these requirements and your qualities, which you’ll highlight in the cover letter to answer the most important question: Why am I the best candidate? Mark down all the requirements of the employer that you meet.
Write down the selected skills and abilities on a separate sheet of paper and think about the situations in which you use them. These situations can be:
- previous work experience,
- volunteer work,
- courses at the faculty,
- projects and group work at the faculty,
- scientific and research work,
- independent projects,
Even if you don’t have the experience of applying knowledge and skills in a formal way, recall everyday situations in which you interact with friends, colleagues, and family. Describe the situations in one or two sentences in a way that shows you’ve a good command of the knowledge or skill in question. This especially applies to the soft skills.
Research the employer
Researching the employer will help you answer the question: Why do I want to work for your company?
Read the information on the company’s website, check out its Facebook page, Instagram and LinkedIn profiles, look for interesting posts in the media and ask people you know who are or were employed there about the company.
Select the most interesting information and write it down:
- their culture and values,
- the industry,
- technologies they use,
- recent events and/or changes of interest.
Choose the 3 most important pieces of information
From your list, choose two to three pieces of information about the employer that you find most interesting and that best match you and your interests.
Relate the selected pieces of information to your interests, values, and career plans
By choosing the things you like best about the employer and connecting them to your interests, values and career plans, you avoid generic phrases like “I want to work for you because you are the leading company in the industry”.
Relate the company’s culture and values to your values and connect the industry, customers, services, and technologies they use to your interests and career plans. For each piece of information selected about them, write down one or two pieces of information about yourself.
Sort the information from the steps above into basic paragraphs of the cover letter and start writing a cover letter that will make the employer want to meet you. 😉